Today being a Sunday was my day to get up early and get to the newsagents in plenty of time to get back for the Sunday morning (politics) programme. I listened to a selection of Bach on my way down but at 8.00am in the morning, I don’t think I passed another soul on my walk there and back. It was quite a fine day but pretty cold at that hour in the morning, as you might imagine. The newsagent and I spent a certain amount of time discussing Putin and how the world had suddenly become somewhat disordered. On the Sunday Morning show, Liz Truss (our Foreign Secretary) was the weekly member of the government to be interviewed and, for once, I found her fairly forthright and to the point. For example, she acknowledged that the conflict with Russia might last for years, that an attack of Ukrainian democracy was in effect, an attack on all European democracies and that mechanisms should be fast forwarded to allow entry into the UK of any Ukranian passport holder. The Immigration minister, Kevin Foster, has apparently tweeted that any Ukrainians who wish to flee from Putin should apply for a vacancy as a fruit picker and then wait for several months for the application to be processed – and entry into the UK to be granted or denied. To show the dvisions in the Tory Party over this, Fraser Nelson, another guest on the programme who is the editor of the Spectator (right wing weekly periodical) has suggested that any Ukrainian passport holder should be offered immediate and unconditional entry into the UK – along the lines of wht was offered to the Asians who were being thrown out out of Uganda by Idi Amin in the early 1970’s or even the deal currentlly on offer to any of the residents of Hong Kong who wish to relocate here.
Before we walked down to the park today, I had the quickest of scans through the ‘Sunday Times‘ and found some analysis that suggested that Putin was ‘mad’ rather than just being ‘mad’ It is being said by those who have known Putin for a long time that he has undergone quite a personality change in the last year or so (since COVID). He has apparently almost become a social recluse and only surrounds himself by his acquaintances of many years ago when they were both officers in the KGB. The long table that we have seen in recent videoclips of Putin with other world leades urging a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine ‘problem’ is Putin’s attempt to keep as far away as possible from any potential sources of infection.
Be this as it may, two amusing stories have arisen from the horror about to be unleashed in Kyif. The first of these relates to a Russian armoured vehicle which had run out of fuel and was surrounded by local Ukrainians. When asked what they thought they doing, the young Russian soldiers admitted that they had no idea where they were i.e. what country they were in nor did they know where they meant to be going. What eventually happened to them, I know not. The second story I rather like. It has reported that in Kyiv that the local popuation are doing what they can to remove street and direction signs that might be of some use to an invading army. It is said that directions to nearby cities have been replaced with profanities that could be translated as 'Go f**k yourself', 'Go f**k yourself again' and 'Go f**k yourself back to Russia'. but the story may well emanate fron Ukraine’s road sign agency Ukravtodor which has mocked-up a road sign containing these profanities in Ukrainian.
The more serious story tonight is that, using veiled language, Putin has ordered his miliary chiefs to get ‘readied’ and put into position some nuclear weapons, both tactical and long-range. One has to say that is probably bluff and bluster but, of course, it is very difficult to read Putin’s mind and to know whether he just might launch nuclear weapons. In the case of the American nuclear deterrent, I believe that has to be a ‘dual lock’ policy i.e. a nuclear strike has to be got to be authorised by the President and a senior member of the military. It was rumoured in the dying days of the Trump presidency, the suitcase containing the military codes necessary to activate a nuclear strike was kept well away from the President. One presumes that the american military might be composed of Republicans but not deranged Republicans à la Trump. The interesting question is whether the Soviet military planners thought of a similar contingency in case a nuclear war be started ‘by accident’ by a deranged President of Russia. The slightest glimmer of hope tonight is that Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have decided to meet with each in a neutral location in Belarus. Is this a tacit acknowledgement by Putin that things are not going to plan?